The remaining Republican presidential candidates have been fixated on Iowa for weeks ahead of the state’s crucial caucuses, as they seek to gain support from the voters who will be first to name a preferred nominee in the 2024 race.
But what exactly are the caucuses, and how do they work?
Every election cycle, tens of thousands of Iowans gather at caucus sites – known as precincts – across the state. In what will be the first contest in the wild race for the Republican presidential nomination, this year the highly anticipated event will take place on Monday, Jan. 15.
But unlike a primary – which is a traditional “one person, one vote” election – there is no casting of ballots in a caucus.
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Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley speaks to Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum at a town hall meeting hosted by Fox News in Des Moines, Iowa, on Jan. 8, 2024. (Christian Monterrosa/Getty Images)
In Iowa, the action will take place at 1,657 precincts across the state – which will be held in school gymnasiums, church basements, union halls, community centers, libraries or any other place where people can gather.
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Only registered Republicans are allowed to take part in the GOP caucuses, and 17-year-olds can caucus if they are of voting age by November’s general election.
On the other side of the aisle, the Democratic National Committee recently removed Iowa as the first state in the party’s early presidential nomination process.
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A supporter of former President Donald Trump wears a cap at a campaign rally in Waterloo, Iowa, on Dec. 19, 2023. (Fox News – Paul Steinhausere)
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Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks to guests at Ashley’s BBQ Bash, hosted by Iowa Congresswoman Ashley Hinson, on Aug. 6, 2023, in Cedar Rapids. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)
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Here’s how all the action plays out:
- Iowa Republicans will gather Monday at caucus sites
- They kick off at 7 p.m. CT
- Representatives from each of the presidential campaigns will make a short pitch for their candidate and then attendees cast secret ballots. That’s it! It’s much simpler than what the Democrats do.
- The results are then sent back to the Iowa GOP HQ in Des Moines
- It’s a closed contest, meaning the GOP caucuses are only open to registered Republicans in Iowa. However, Iowans can register or change their party affiliation on caucus day